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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Minister of State (Europe) 7:00 pm, 30th January 2008

These amendments would exclude the provisions in the Lisbon treaty that define the competence on energy from having any effect in UK law. The Lisbon treaty includes energy in the list of areas of shared competences. Since Maastricht, the EU has had competence over energy, which is what enables the EU to enter into agreements with other countries—for example, the treaty establishing the energy community, which expands the EU single market in energy to the states of south-east Europe.

Article 2C of the Lisbon treaty defines the Union's competences, including energy as a shared competence, which the lead amendment is designed to remove. The treaty explicitly states that competences not conferred on the EU remain with member states, so it provides greater clarity than before.

Article 176, the target of some of the amendments, sets out the EU's competence for energy. Removing that article would prevent the UK from implementing any actions agreed under the new legal base. The whole purpose of setting out the EU's competence in energy is to clarify for the first time that the EU can do so and make it easier for it to do so. The appearance of a separate energy article in the Lisbon treaty reflects the growing importance of EU action to help to achieve the UK's energy and climate change priorities. This new article will help to ensure that policies on energy markets, energy security and energy efficiency are coherent and mutually reinforcing. That is vital in order successfully to drive the transition to a high-growth, low-carbon economy in Europe. This dedicated legal base helps to achieve that for the first time.

The new article also strikes the right balance in preserving the rights of member states to control their own energy resources. We sought safeguards, as my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk mentioned, and achieved them. New article 176A—old article 147—states:

"Such measures shall not affect a Member State's right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy sources and the general structure of its energy supply".

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